Having played the game some more, I really think this is a game whose systems are at odds with its intention. And I want to suggest something drastic that I imagine almost nobody (especially the devs) will agree with.
I don't think levelling – or stats, or xp – belong in this game. I think the entire system of character progression should be encapsulated within the crafting system. I say this as someone who plays a lot of single-player RPGS, and who usually finds crafting to be the weakest and most annoying element of those games. But for Conan Exiles, I really think crafting should be the only system of progression.
What I mean is: where you can go and what you can kill is 100% determined by your gear – character stats don't even come into it. And what gear you have is 100% determined by what you can craft. And what you can craft is 100% determined by the infrastructure you've built for yourself by crafting with materials you're able to gather by going to increasingly dangerous areas and killing increasingly dangerous enemies for increasingly more valuable crafting materials.
The game already works like this – to a degree, but it's also using leveling as a way of allowing character progression to persist through deaths, and to unlock new crafting recipes. My opinion is that character progression that persists through death should manifest in the form of the infrastructure you've built through crafting. And so should what new crafting recipes you have access to.
The ability to forge steel weapons, for instance, should have no level requirement at which you can unlock those recipes. Unlocking recipes shouldn't be a thing. It should simply be a matter of having crafted enough of an infrastructure that you can now build a forge, and to have good enough gear to get to the areas where iron ore is. Etc.
And this should be the case across the board, for all systems. Like sorcery, when it is introduced. Perhaps you craft a spellbook that you carry around with you, and gradually fill it with increasingly powerful spells as you collect the reagents that allow you to inscribe new spells onto the spellbook's pages. Or something like that – something that involves crafting.
My issue with leveling is that it feels like a artificial crutch for the crafting system. I understand that its purpose is to prevent any one player from becoming a master of all trades, but I feel like the same effect can be achieved by making certain types of infrastructure mutually exclusive (can't have a forge and an alchemy lab at the same time, because the forge's heat might cause the lab to explode, etc). Or introduce an apprentice-journeyman-master system, where a player can be an apprentice in all disciplines, a journeyman in a few, and a master of only one.
There's something deeply satisfying about leveling a character to near-godhood. There's also something deeply satisfying about advancing through a tech tree to create increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons or units in, say, a Civilisation game. Conan Exiles is trying to do both at once, but I feel like the two approaches interfere-with and weaken one-another, rather than enhancing each other. And since the primary focus of the game is already on crafting, I think leveling, stats and xp are the things that need to go.